On the morning after François Hollande was elected president of France, Martin Schulz sat in his office at 7h50 and gave an interview to Deutschlandradio. Then his press team sat down to write an opinion peace for Project Syndicate. Not only François Hollande wants to move away from austerity, Schulz said. The European Commission under Barroso is also convinced that more growth cannot come about by austerity alone. And the European Parliament, with Schulz, an (albeit impartial) social democrat at the top, is also coming out in favor of less austerity.
As a German commentator observed on Sunday, the word "super election day" several years ago meant elections in two or three large German states. Today, it means elections in France, Greece and Serbia (and Schleswig-Holstein). In an integrated European economy, national policies can no longer be shaped in isolation; policy-making has to shift from the national to the European level to remain efficient. Mathew suggested that we have seen the emergence of a truly European debate on economic policy in the last few months - more austerity against more growth programs instead of more Europe against less Europe. I think he is right. And now that Hollande's rise to power shifts European policy-making
from austerity to growth, the president of the European Parliament appears well-placed to broker
and negotiate this transition within the European institutions. He could emerge as new leftist leader in European policy-making, if not in front of the cameras then at least in the hallways of the institutions.
The next European Council will have growth programs on its agenda. And Martin Schulz has been fighting for the inclusion of the EP president in the negotiations of the fiscal pact. It will be interesting to see how much he will use his position and his intra-party networks to help broker a growth program in Europe.
And then? National elections in Germany are next year and if the European mood, inspired by Hollande's election, turns toward growth programs, then the German elections might sweep the former social democrat finance minister Peer Steinbrück, an efficient pro-European, to power. Might be a very interesting constellation for social democrat governance in Europe: Hollande - Steinbrück - Schulz.